Sharks, breeze and a whole lotta flat water, this is champagne sailing for ya!
The sensationally warm waters of Lake Macquarie were lit up on the first weekend of February as the 2023 Australian Hobie Class Championship Tour kick started in style, as Wangi RSL Amateur Sailing Club hosted the NSW Hobie 14, 18 16 Women & Youth State Championships in spectacular fashion.
Taking place only four weeks after the 50th Hobie Nationals, the single largest catamaran regatta in Australian in recent history, there was always a chance our intrepid Hobie Family may have been burnt out. However, The Hobie 14 Cowboys came in droves, with 26 sailors registered to send it, along with six of the greatest Hobie 16 Women’s teams we’ve ever seen, along with a trio of Hobie 18s having the times of their lives.
As such, the NSWHCA would like to thank all the competitors that made the trip to Wangi, especially those who travelled interstate from Queensland. If it wasn’t for you all, the sailors, these events would not be possible.
We’d also like to raise our mugs to Tony Outteridge, Lyn & Les McAllister, and the whole team at Wangi RSL Amateur Sailing Club. Lake Macquarie is one of the greatest sailing destinations in NSW, let alone Australia, and in some extremely variable conditions, the WASC Race Team bagged nine quality races over two days. In addition to the racing, the facilities and rigging area are exceptional, as is the canteen and the wonderful people that operate it.
A huge shoutout goes to Lisa and her team at Marine Outlet for providing some awesome prizes for our sailors, and to Hobie Asia Pacific for providing their two GoPros for Totally Immersed Tv’s coverage of the regatta. Finally, making the trip down from Wangi Heights, Beau Outteridge gave us his time on Sunday to capture pure glamour on the water. As one of the best in the business, Beau’s skills behind the camera are second-to-none, and the Hobie Class was lucky enough to have Beau totally immersed in our Way of Life.
All of Beau’s photos are available to be viewed and/or purchased via his website in the link below:
But before we get into the good stuff, here are a few stats from the Hobie 14s that show just how close, exciting and competitive this racing is. From 9 heats: there were 6 different heat winners; another 5 different helms had a podium finish at least once, and only one helm had a drop of a single digit, and that helm was Bundy.
With nothing but grim forecasts across the board, it wasn’t looking ideal for the merry band of Hobie Sailors a week out. Despite the forecast, Libby & Charlie sent it down from Brisbane with ‘Moiwa‘ to compete in their first NSW States as a Hobie 16 team. Joining the pair for the ride, Carmen Andrews was linking up on ‘Munyunga‘ with Jervis Bay’s Bridget Raftery for the first time, whilst Zoe Cairns flew in like a rockstar to back up a Nationals performance with Ellie Knorre on home waters.
Making the decision to get the first barge off Coochiemudlo Island Friday morning, Worsty succumbed to the light, yet consistent, bullying tactics from Gav & Paddy, in a last ditch effort to convince Woofer and Bloody Leon to head down the coast. On that note, did anyone see Whitworth on the race track?
With the help of Dougie, Darren Bundock was on the water on a Hobie 14 for the first time in over 25 years. Sailing on Dougie’s spare 14, and almost identical to his original vessel, Bundy was going bow-to-bow with helm’s that conception wasn’t an iota of a thought the last time he buggered up a tack.
With the vast majority of sailors arriving on Friday, a 20 knot westerly soon dissipated over the hills, as a late nor’ east sea-breeze blew over the lake from the sand islands, making for an exceptional opportunity for a twilight send-it session. With the Hobie Asia Pacific Hero 10 on Paddy’s mast, and the other on Will’s stern, the events of the evening were captured all too well. Carmen snapped MB’s tiller, Bridgey & Charlie went water skiing, whilst Jimmy & Paul went shark fishing, using themselves as bait.
Finally, after all the sails were rolled up and packed away, it was off to the Royal Wangi Hotel for a classic evening of reminiscing for the Hobie Family…
With a bleak wind forecast on all the usual channels, the optimism was off the charts for a late sea-breeze. However, a light nor’ wester in the morning became a strong nor’ wester in the afternoon, as the breeze blew like no tomorrow down from the Hunter Valley. The WASC team put away five races during the day, only having to move the top marks five times throughout…
In the Hobie 18s, Jake & Alannah were backing up their Australian Championships in the breeze with a clean slate from the day. Brad & Josh were having a blast hot on their stern, as Mike & Michael were sending it around in gusts that would turn Bryn’s haircut into a spinnaker.
Likewise, Emma & Hayley were on fire, finishing the day with a clean sweep in the breeze. Carmen & Bridgey were holding their own in the blow, despite being the lightest pair on the race course, with Clare & Helen were hot on their heels. Libby & Charlie had a blinder in the first heat placing second, as Ellie & Zoe tested the record for the amount of capsizes in a single day.
As one of the hottest Hobie 14 fleets we’ve seen in the States for a long while, it was nothing but pure tension on the race course. Will McKenzie started the day magically with a bullet, with Rod hot on his tail. Bryn was back in form after taking home the Nationals, getting a bullet in the second, as Pete Walker and Andrew McKenzie were hunting him down. After two races to get used to the boat, Bundy went out and got two bullets, with MB, Paddy and Gav all coming in close behind him. Finally, Worsty came out in the blow to claim the last race of the day, with Bryn, Bundy and Rod mixing it up on Bryn’s stern.
Other notable performances include Andrew Spinelli, who’s results improved as he continued throughout the day. Likewise, Dave Fisher, Arbi Watt, Pete Breaden and Darren Schmidt all had top 10 finishes throughout the day. For some, particularly Rod in this case, the States is always a great opportunity to learn a few things. Jimmy & Paul learnt the hard way to get up the back of the boat in a gust; although for Bryn, this didn’t quite work. For Rod, up and coming Nacra 17 sailor Jason Waterhouse was in town for the day, dropping by to inform the old boy how to get the Hobie 14 up on the foils for the downwind runs.
As all the boats hit the shore looking rather salty (Adrian a little bit more after a close encounter with the ‘man in a grey suit’), it was off to the Wangi RSL for a more subdued night than the previous; no thanks to the bloody westerly. In addition, the NSWHCA held their Annual General Meeting in a record breaking 25 minutes of power, which saw newcomers Hayley Fisher, Ellie Knorre and Jimmy Winchester take roles as the Youth, Women’s and Publicity representatives respectively, whilst Paddy, Dougie, Clare and Dave all maintained their roles.
For some of the fleet, particularly that younger group of sailors, it was a slower morning down at the club. However, Jake & Susie were down the Wangi Clubhouse cooking up a storm of bacon & egg rolls. With a late sou’ easterly on the cards, local Wangi legend, Jodie Shiels took the Grom squad out on the lake to have a crack at getting towed behind the tinny on the foil board. Charlie, Bryn & Jimmy all hit the piss spectacularly, Ellie gave it a good crack, as Carmen began flexing on the whole crew. Paddy’s performance was all too elegant before Jodie launched the NSW President all the way to Belmont.
Four races were held over the course of the day, and Jakey & Alannah were going race for race with Brad & Josh, with Jakey & Alannah claiming the Title at the end of the day. Mike & Michael were shooting around the race track, with two GoPros on board capturing all the action for Totally Immersed TV.
Placing third in the Youth Championship, Jimmy & Paul and a better day, as they continued to improve each race. Additionally, two thirds from Ellie & Zoe got them back up the ladder; however, it wasn’t enough to get ahead of Tracy & Ainslie, who got the girls on count-back overall with a bullet in the eighth heat. Libby & Charlies persistence over the weekend was commendable, as their improvement over the weekend was clear to Kerry & Rebecca as they watched from the shore.
With two UFD’s in a row, it wasn’t exactly what Carmen & Bridgey were looking for. However, it was enough to get them over the line as Youth Champions and third in the Women’s Championship. Backing up a solid performance at the Nationals, Clare & Helen showed strong consistency over the two days finishing second overall and first in the Women’s Masters. Finally, Emma & Hayley backed up their Australian Championship to win the States with an almost clean slate, whilst concurrently solidifying their spot as the highest ranked Hobie 16 Team on the Championship Tour.
In the Hobie 14s, Peter Breaden went out and took out the first race of the day, with Will & Paddy coming in close behind. Finally learning how to start, Paddy took out the next two races, with Bryn hot on his heels with two seconds. For the final race, however, the boys decided to share the love, with Bryn claiming the bullet, and Paddy the second. Also in the mix, MB & Rod were up there on the podium, whilst Bundy, Andrew, Gav, Dave & Worsty were all having their fair crack.
Rounding out the top 10, Dave finished the day in tenth, only three points behind Gav. Will managed to sneak in front of Worsty to get seventh, but not quite enough to get the Big-Mac who lost on count-back to MB on 44 points. After heading out on the water with the yellow bib, Bundy dropped back to fourth after what was clearly a tough day of racing. Eight points ahead of Bundy, Rod placed third after a successful day on the water, whilst Bryn’s day was exceptional enough to maintain his blue jersey in second. However, it wasn’t enough to hold off Paddy, as he moved up the ladder, taking the title of NSW Champion from none-other than MB.
Final Results can be found via the link below:
Paddy’s Plain Speakin’
The role of President for the NSWHCA is one I am truly honoured to hold. Dave, Clare and the rest of the team have put some much time and effort into the last year of sailing. With Twofold Bay a year ago, followed by Palm Beach, the 50th Australian Championships and now Wangi Wangi, the NSWHCA team is a well oiled machine.
Without you all, the sailors, these events wouldn’t be possible; and to have such a quality fleet to race against makes this Championship in particular so very special.
But for now, this is only the start to what is going to be a marvellous year of sailing. The WA States in Rockingham are only a month away, closely followed by Port Melbourne, Brisbane, Bad News and a whole lot more…and the Totally Immersed TV Team is going to be at every single one of them!
So, with that, I’ll be seeing you very soon.